As sex assaults rise, NYC women take up self-defense

After a string of shocking sex assaults in New York City, women across the Big Apple are taking the matter of protecting themselves into their own hands.

FOX 5 NY visited Esco Pharmacy in Hell’s Kitchen where Vanessa, who is 31 years old, stopped in to buy pepper spray.

"Last night my boyfriend saw something on Instagram about this place, that they were selling pepper spray," she said.

The pharmacy has seen a major increase in sales as more and more New Yorkers say they are concerned about crime.

RELATED: NYC reported sexual assaults up in 2022

Last Saturday, a woman jogging at about 11 o’clock in the morning in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan was ambushed at knifepoint and sexually assaulted. The suspect is now under arrest.

Last week, a homeless man viciously beat a woman inside a subway station in Howard Beach, Queens in a shocking incident caught on camera.

"It’s crazy.  It’s super-super unsafe," Vanessa said.

At Basics Plus Hardware on the Upper West Side, sales of pepper spray are through the roof.

"Usually people buy like 5 at a time. 5 or 6 at a time," said Lincoln Neto, the store manager.

Last week, the NYPD reported that rapes are up in the city by nearly 11%, while other sex crimes have risen more than 15% this week to date.